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Thursday, January 11, 2007

cover of Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again

Batman as an old man. Bats has been gone for a while, and everyone thinks he died three years ago. In fact, all of the superheroes are thought to be gone-- although most of them are still around, just doing their heroics in secret at the behest of a corrupt and tyrannical government that has decided the populace doesn't need to see (or believe in) the superfolk in their spandex (it isn't good for them, or something). In the meantime, Batman has recruited and trained a band of young new heroes to help him change all of that.

This book is chock-full of superheroes (most of whom I'd at least heard of), and adds a few new ones (as far as I know), including Batman's young protegé Catgirl. Among other things, in this world Superman and Wonderwoman have a love-child named Lara, and a very corpulent and ugly Lex Luthor is the power behind the computer-generated image of a president. Superman and Batman are pretty antagonistic towards each other (although I think that may be common in other renditions), and Lex Luthor and Brainiac have an entire Kryptonian city miniaturized in a bottle that they're keeping as hostages so that Supes will do their bidding. I particularly liked the character of The Atom, who can make himself tiny-- and who had his own technology turned against him when the government kept him imprisoned in a petri dish. The government was also using the Flash, harnessing his speed to generate a secret power source that provided electricity to the entire eastern seaboard. Batman himself isn't all that visible, especially not in the first third or so-- although he's the one pulling the strings making things happen.

Miller is not just the author, but also the penciller for this work, which I find pretty interesting (I'm not so familiar with comic books, so I don't know how common this is, but I think not very). The artwork was fun and had a unique kind of flair to it. At many times, the layout on the page did a great job of representing the kind of infoglut and proliferation of talking heads we have now in our media when anything is going on. Also, there were some interesting ideas, like the "superchix," a girl band cashing in on the sexy superheroine chic or the vengeful, rejected sidekick who only wanted to be appreciated.

This is apparently a sequel to Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which I haven't read. I enjoyed reading it, and it made sense to me without reading the first one.

Title:Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
Author:Frank Miller, Lynn Varley, and others
Date published:2002
Genre:Graphic Novel
Number of pages:256


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